A comparison of preliminary school reopening plans

A comparison of preliminary school reopening plans

Plans on instructional model(s) and guidance on face coverings

EAB searched for publicly available information on school reopening plans from districts in the Washington Area Board of Education (WABE) and from the 10 largest school districts in the U.S. (by enrollment)—as of July 17, 2020. EAB also reviewed school reopening plans—as of July 17, 2020—from Detroit Public Schools (MI), Gwinnett County Public Schools (GA), Metro Nashville Public Schools (TN), and Wake County Public Schools (NC).

Across the above districts, EAB reported on the following components of reopening:

  • Instructional model (e.g., fully virtual, hybrid, fully in-person),
  • Allocations of instructional time for fully virtual and hybrid models,
  • Guidance on face coverings (e.g., masks),
  • Use of alternative spaces for instructional purposes.

EAB notes that district administrators may change school reopening plans across the next several weeks based on factors such as local COVID-19 pandemic conditions; guidance from local and state health and education experts; and stakeholder feedback (e.g., families, staff).

Nearly half of profiled districts will start the fall semester in a fully virtual model only

10 of 24 profiled districts will start the fall semester with a fully virtual model only. Of the remaining 14 profiled districts, two districts—Broward County Public Schools (FL) and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (FL)—will most likely follow suit. Seven districts will provide a hybrid model with the option of a fully virtual model.

Almost all profiled districts will either require or strongly encourage face coverings in school

Of the 24 profiled districts, 22 districts will mandate or strongly recommend that students and staff wear face coverings in school.

If administrators require students and staff to wear face coverings, administrators should specify any exceptions. For example, medical exceptions include individuals who have trouble breathing, are incapacitated, are unconscious, or are otherwise not able to remove the face covering without assistance. In addition, administrators should not require students younger than two years to wear face coverings, per guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Use alternative spaces for in-person instructional purposes

Administrators at Detroit Public Schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, and New York City DOE (NY) indicate that they plan to repurpose cafeterias, auditoriums, gyms, media centers, courtyards, and/or other enclosed outdoor spaces, for in-person instructional purposes.

Notably, slide 12 of EAB’s webconference What K-12 “Return to Learn” Plans Are Getting Wrong discusses additional ideas. Aside from reassigning building spaces (e.g., conference rooms, labs) for instructional purposes, administrators can move classes outdoors (e.g., tents on school grounds, stadiums, parking lots) and contract community spaces (e.g., performing arts centers, youth centers, churches).

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